One Owner! 1976 Saab 99GL Barn Find

Todd FitchBy Todd Fitch

After aging in a barn for 30 years, this cheese-colored 1976 Saab 99GL now finds itself on Minneapolis, Minnesota Craigslist. Thanks to Pat L. for finding this Swedish sedan located in Prescott, Wisconsin, about 11 degrees of latitude south of Stockholm, Sweden. A transmission flush gone awry converted the four-speed manual gearbox into a large paperweight and sidelined this  sedan. Never again did the original owner return his factory-ordered Swede-mobile to the cow-country byways.

The seller’s father, the original owner, ordered the four-cylinder GL with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection. The injected 2.0 liter makes 116 HP, a boost of 17 over the standard carbureted model (some details courtesy of and Wikipedia).

Kudos to the seller for showing the picture many people leave out:  the driver’s seat cushion. A key wear indicator, this cushion can also help substantiate mileage claims. A driver who doesn’t take care entering and exiting the vehicle may show equal apathy to oil change intervals and other maintenance. Of course seats can be recovered and replaced, but all sellers should show the condition of the seat that was occupied during 100% of the accumulated miles, because the buyer will notice it immediately. Don’t insult your buyer by lighting a bomb with a delayed fuse. For having 124,000 miles of use before the tragic maintenance mistake, this seat looks good.

My 2006 Saab 9-5 featured a 260 HP turbocharged 2.3 capable of propelling the Swedish sedan to 155 MPH, yet (ugh) sporting the same stereo and HVAC controls as a Chevrolet Impala. When this Saab 99 was built, Saabs offered basic transportation with varying levels of sportiness, always emphasizing safety, recalling their aviation history, and unapologetically quirky. A Swedish friend told me “Owning a Saab is like joining a cult.” The $1000 asking price is a low barrier to Swedish car ownership. Some will view these pictures and see a face that only a mother can love, and some will see the Holy Grail. What do you see?

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  1. Ron E

    Always have loved SAABs. And your friend was right it is like belonging to a cult.

  2. Luki

    The gearboxes in those are notorious hand grenades.
    Great cars though.

    • Jon

      5 speed transmissions do go bad, mainly the differential bearings.

      4 speed transmission rarely had problems. A fluid change in a 4 speed is a simple drain and fill using 3 quarts 10W30 motor oil. Yes, motor oil. Specs suggested 80W gear oil, which was basically unobtanium outside of bulk purchases from a Texaco dealer.

      I owned 4 99 models and 1 900 with the 4 speed trans, never had a problem. Of the 9 900 models with the 5 speed three had trans problems. The problem with Saab transmissions is they could not handle the HP & torque of the Turbo! engines.

  3. Steve R

    If the undercarriage hasn’t been destroyed by rust its a bargain. I can’t see it lasting long at that price irregardless, I’d bet the parts would turn a tidy profit if it’s too far gone to return to the road.

    Steve R

  4. XMA0891

    Made well before GM ruined the marque; 99’s were fantastic cars. That is, if you could keep them from rotting out from under you. Looks to be in decent shape for the year and mileage. Buy-in and be different. Great find!

  5. Sam

    Take a few more flipp’n pictures. Seller could have easily taken chassis pictures while winching up the trailer ramps. Pop the trunk and open the hood.

    Looks like it will clean up…add a few mods for a rally tribute car.

  6. Howard A Member

    Every time I see one of these, it reminds me of the movie “Crazy People”. It was a very funny movie. “They weren’t suppose to start everytime”.

    • Mike H

      Me too, Howard.

  7. redwagon

    Holy Grail. In a delightful cheese color for Wisconsin dontcha know!

    For $1000 it will not last long.

  8. Gay Car Nut

    Lovely looking Saab. It looks like a candidate for restoration or even restomod. If only Craigslist would post more photos of the car. They never seem to do that for some reason.

  9. Steve Visek

    I grew up with a 1974 99 LE 2-door coupe in the family, bought new by my Dad in the Fall of 1974 as a leftover. It was refrigerator white with the same orange “hangnail” interior as this car. That fabric would hold you, but it would snag your skin.

    The ’74 also had the amazingly annoying seat belt interlock and buzzer, that would keep you from starting the car if you weren’t belted in, and would buzz at you incessantly if you unbuckled at any point.

    Car was a little tank, though for some reason Dad kept burning out clutches, 4 or 5 in ten years. I wanted it for my first car, but he got rid of it a year before I got my permit.

    • John Jacob

      All cars sold in the USA in 1974 had that ignition interlock. It was so unloved by consumers that the government dropped it from the standards after 1974.

  10. BTG88

    My first car was a 1980 99 GLi. Fantastic car, very dependable, unstoppable in upstate NY snow. Ultimately, the winter salt started to rot it from the bottom up. If I had the garage space, I would be on this one.

  11. Tom Hall

    I took back all the bad things I said about GM running Saab into the ground after buying my 2006 9-3 Sport Combi Aero. Yep, it has it’s quirks and such, but considering it’s age, and certainly considering what I paid for it, it’s the sweetest daily driver that I have ever owned – and I’ve had lots of them – new and old.

    sure wish I could add this 99 to my Saab fleet but the the SC would likely vanish from the driveway. It’s my “wife’s car” and she’d likely take it with her 🙂

  12. Will

    Here’s the saved ad for this
    And here’s an older ad of another Saab 99GL it better condition


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